09 March, 2018

I'm a Master of Disaster! (and other updates)

Today I was somewhat shocked—but somehow not surprised at all—to discover that my last blog post was published more than three months ago! My last update post was even longer ago, from the end of September, and a lot has happened in those five-plus months. In this post I'll give a hopefully not-too-long recap of what has been happening in my life during that time. Really, I could just let the update slide and move on to "real" posts, but I feel like this background is relevant for a few upcoming post ideas, plus I'm sure some of you would like to know what I've been up to these days. If you haven't been keeping up with my other updates, feel free to check out my previous update post first; otherwise, let's jump right in.

Christmas Travels

For the first time in three years I was able to spend Christmas in the US with my family! It had been more than a year since I had seen my family and it was really nice to be able to spend the most important holiday of the year with them. In addition to seeing my loved ones, I got to do so many fun things:

I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas soaking up the Florida sun with my mom, my sister and Maxim, complete with a pool!

We went to Walt Disney World (The Magic Kingdom, to be exact)!

This is the back of Cinderella Castle, for those of you who don't recognize it.

We also went to Universal (my first time there!), although I didn't take any pictures.

And on Christmas Day (December 25th) we had another Disney-themed day: We had brunch at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort, saw the giant gingerbread house, and then walked over to the Polynesian Resort.

One part of the Grand Floridian

The giant gingerbread house! People fit inside and they run a little store out of the back.

One of the Polynesian buildings. Look at that blue sky!

Then, bright and early the next day, it was time to bid farewell to Maxim for a while (sad face!) and move on to the cold dark north to see my dad.  The highlight of the trip was seeing my dad's side of the family and celebrating Christmas all together for the first time since I left for Germany in 2013. Plus, we spent the night at the most adorable B&B called The Arbor Inn:

The rest of the time at my dad's was spent relaxing, cooking, eating awesome vegan food (I want to bring a few of the vegan restaurants in that area back to Germany with me!) and catching up on all the American football I never get a chance to watch here. Unfortunately my trip didn't correspond with the Super Bowl, but the college football playoffs were good enough for me.

I also got to say hi to my alma mater, Mount Holyoke!

All in all, my five weeks in the US were very appreciated and a nice break between the student phase of my life and the looming transition to the career phase.


And speaking of the student phase, that part of my life is (almost) officially behind me! After three years in a two-year master's program I've finally completed all the necessary credits, submitted all the paperwork and received my official certificate of completion (which is different from the diploma—don't ask me why, it's Germany, they love paperwork). I am technically still enrolled as a student at the university until March 31st when the semester ends, but I have no more academic obligations in that time and can officially call myself a Master (or, as Maxim likes to put it, a "Master of Disaster").

Professional stuff

My professional life has made great strides since my last update. When I last wrote I had just started a three-month internship. It ran from mid-August to mid-November and was, in my opinion, the single most important and influential part of my entire master's degree program. As I mentioned previously, I interned at a translation agency, and the internship was everything I could have possibly asked for. I loved the job, my coworkers were nice, and at the end I received amazing feedback that they were very happy with my work. My supervisor even said he would love to have me work for them as a freelance translator!

It was reassuring to know that if my search for a full-time translation job was unsuccessful I had a convenient entry point into the world of freelancing. However, my goal was a Festanstellung (a full-time job for a single company with a salary and benefits—you know, a "real" job), so during the last few months of 2017 I sent out a handful of applications for German-to-English translation jobs. There were honestly more job opportunities than I expected (the vast majority of translation work is done by freelancers so my expectations were not high), but even so I only ended up sending out five applications.

Of those five jobs, I scored interviews for two of them. I was in the US while most of this process was taking place, so my first interview was a phone interview and I had to wait until I got back to Germany for the in-person interviews. After a total of three interviews, weeks of waiting and uncertainty, a trip to Münster, and several frustrating turns.... *drumroll please*... I GOT A JOB!

After I got the offer things moved along really quickly. I was offered the job and accepted on January 25th (eight days after my interview), received the contract on January 30th, and started working two days later on February 1st. The catch with this job is that I am starting as an intern for the first two months, since I have very little professional translation experience, and my "real" job and accompanying salary don't start until April. I accepted that condition since this job is basically exactly what I was looking for. So far I really like it: I like the work, I get along well with my coworkers, and I get to work in a small, beautiful office in a really nice neighborhood. The only drawback is the commute—an hour by train each way—but I'm putting a positive spin on it and using it as reading time. I've already gotten through two books this way and am making my way through a third.

Health stuff

The last few months have been a roller coaster for me in terms of my physical well-being. This is a topic I haven't touched on much on this blog, since the subject of health can be very personal, but to quickly summarize: The last year or so has been consumed, at times excessively so, by adjusting to diet changes and coming to terms with the underlying health issues that have prompted these changes. On top of all that, since September I've managed to injure both my knee and my back on separate occasions: At the end of September I hurt my knee falling on the stairs and missed a month of work at my previous internship; then two weeks into my current internship I started to develop lower back pain that slowly became so bad I couldn't sit in my office chair for any length of time. I'm now out of work for the second consecutive week and am going to physical therapy. I will finally be back to work on Monday and I really hope my back is able to handle it.

Despite ending on that not-so-positive note, my life is moving along quite nicely. I am finally where I was hoping to be five or six years ago: living in the big city with a job I like that allows me to pay my bills comfortably (or at least it will once my full salary kicks in). My focus in the coming months will be to establish a routine that I am happy with, take care of my health (including exercising more), and work on my social life. These are certainly not simple tasks, but I feel like I am approaching a place of stability where I can start to make progress in those areas.

As always, thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed this update!

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